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What Materials Do 3D Printers Use?

Makerbot 3D Printer

Maxine in Freemont, California listens on KLIV 1590 Silicon Valley News and asked us: “I’d like to know what kind of materials you use in the 3D printer.”

Most 3D printers just use ABS plastic filament. It’s cheap, it can be purchased in different colors, but it’s not very useful, since it’s not that strong. That’s the reason you see so many cellphone cases, or even holders, and such few useful 3D printer things.

ABS Filament
ABS Filament

If you spend more money, you can get a 3D printer that uses metal as its material. The printer itself will likely cost many thousands, and the metal will be a lot more expensive than plastic filament. Metal printers are more common for industrial operations than for consumers, but they can be useful to build pretty functional prototypes more than just a plastic model.

There are a few ceramics printers, again mostly for industrial use and mostly for prototyping, and there is always talk of food printers, human tissue printers, and other things, but really when you hear consumer 3D printer, think plastic.

Also know that you won’t exactly get a perfectly finished product, you will get something kind of rough around the edges that you may have to polish to make it look ok.

Not everybody uses ABS plastic though, we talked to a company called CreoPop at CES 2016 that worked with a light sensitive filament that doesn’t need to be heated like ABS does.

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Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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